MLS on Loan: Seattle Sounders' Eriq Zavaleta helps San Antonio into title contention in final week

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MLS Preseason Tracker: FC Dallas bring back Kevin Hartman as part of broadcast team (Feb. 28)
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MLS Preseason Tracker: FC Dallas bring back Kevin Hartman as part of broadcast team (Feb. 28)

From seemingly out of nowhere, the San Antonio Scorpions have surged back into title contention in the NASL. And they got their third straight victory on Saturday thanks to a huge match from Seattle Sounders loanee Eriq Zavaleta.

The rookie forward scored a goal and logged an assist in a 4-1 demolition of the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in by far his best performance since going on loan to the 2012 NASL regular-season champions. With Zavaleta's help, the Scorpions have rebounded from a slow start and have taken advantage of a favorable schedule to pull into third place behind Carolina and Atlanta with just one week to go in the spring season.

The Scorpions, who have 17 points, now have a mathematical chance to win the championship provided they beat the RailHawks (on 20 points) at home on Thursday by at least three goals and hope the Silverbacks (18 points) do not win at Minnesota.

COMPLETE MLS RESERVE LEAGUE SCHEDULE

Meanwhile in USL PRO action, Orlando City's losses were the Richmond Kickers' gain. The first-place Lions were shorthanded heading into Saturday's showdown with the third-place Kickers at the Citrus Bowl after Sporting KC recalled the league's leading scorer Dom Dwyer and Orlando released another of their Sporting loanees, Yann Songo'o.

And Richmond took due advantage, earning a convincing 2-0 win over OCSC and snapping the hosts' 25-game regular-season unbeaten streak at the Citrus Bowl with big contributions from their own MLS loanees. The Kickers got goals from D.C. United's Michael Seaton and the Houston Dynamo’s Brian Ownby, and a clean sheet from D.C. goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra.

Richmond continued their Florida tour a day later when they earned a 0-0 draw at expansion side VSI Tampa Bay. Dykstra again earned a shutout while Ownby was substituted in the second half for Seaton. With the four-point swing, the undefeated Kickers have 30 points, just two behind Orlando and good for third place in the USL PRO.

The Harrisburg City Islanders remain in second after a 2-1 victory on Friday over the visiting Phoenix FC Wolves in which Philadelphia Union loanees Cristhian Hernandez and Jimmy McLaughlin both started.

NASL:

Carolina RailHawks 1, Atlanta Silverbacks 1; Saturday, June 29
F Kellen Gulley
 (Chicago) - Did not play

San Antonio Scorpions 4, Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1; Saturday, June 29
F Eriq Zavaleta 
(Seattle) - Started, played 90 minutes, one goal, one assist

USL PRO:

Harrisburg City Islanders 2, Phoenix FC Wolves 1; Friday, June 28
M Jimmy McLaughlin
(Philadelphia Union) - Started, played 66 minutes
M Greg Jordan (Philadelphia Union) - Did not play
F Christhian Hernandez (Philadelphia Union) - Started, played 76 minutes
M Don Anding (Philadelphia Union) - Did not play
M Leo Fernandes (Philadelphia Union) - Did not play

Rochester Rhinos 0, Phoenix FC Wolves 0; Saturday, June 29
D Bilal Duckett
(New England Revolution) - Started, played 90 minutes
D Tyler Polak (New England Revolution) - Did not play
M Gabe Latigue (New England Revolution) - Substitute, played 28 minutes
F Matt Horth (New England Revolution) - Did not play

Orlando City SC 0, Richmond Kickers 2; Saturday, June 29
GK Jon Kempin,
Orlando (Sporting Kansas City) - Did not play
M Christian Duke, Orlando (Sporting Kansas City) - Did not play
GK Andrew Dykstra, Richmond (D.C. United) - Started, played 90 minutes
F Michael Seaton, Richmond (D.C. United) - Started, played 66 minutes, scored one goal
F Brian Ownby, Richmond (Houston) - Started, played 90 minutes, scored one goal

Richmond Kickers 0, VSI Tampa Bay FC 0; Sunday, June 30
F Michael Seaton (D.C. United) - Started, played 45 minutes
F Brian Ownby (Houston Dynamo) - Substituted, played 45 minutes
GK Andrew Dykstra (D.C. United) - Started, played 90 minutes

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